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Cross-Sex Hormone Therapy: What Might Transgender People Expect in the First Year?

Cross-Sex Hormone Therapy: What Might Transgender People Expect in the First Year?When transgender individuals decide to physically transition to their desired gender, many start with cross-sex hormone therapy. With hormones, their bodies can start to develop the secondary sex characteristics that align with their gender identity.

Once they begin, most transgender people take hormones for their entire lives, and it can take time to see changes. In June 2019, a Journal of Sexual Medicine study examined what the first year of cross-sex hormone therapy is like.

They collected information 205 trans women (undergoing male-to-female transitions) and 193 trans men (undergoing female-to-male transitions) in Europe. The participants completed questionnaires periodically during their first year taking hormones.

In general, trans women take estrogen, a female hormone, along with an anti-androgen, which lowers the amount of testosterone in the body. In the study, trans women started to have less hair loss on their scalp, an increase in fatigue, and changes in their sense of smell. Some said their breasts were more tender. Emotional instability and mood swings tended to increase also.                                                                                                                   

Trans men take testosterone, raising their levels to those of a typical man. In the study’s trans men, menstrual periods generally stopped within the first six months of hormone therapy. Hot flashes, voice changes, and balding were also reported. Unlike the trans women, emotional instability lessened among the trans men.

More research is needed to learn more about changes during longer periods of hormone therapy, the authors said. However, the current findings can help healthcare providers counsel transgender patients on the hormonal transition process.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


International Society for Sexual Medicine

“What is cross-sex hormone therapy?”

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Van Dijk, Dennis, MD, et al.
“Explorative Prospective Evaluation of Short-Term Subjective Effects of Hormonal Treatment in Trans People—Results from the European Network for the Investigation of Gender Incongruence”
(Full-text. Published online: June 20, 2019)